Billionaire Larry Ellison, the vainglorious CEO of Oracle and yachtsman responsible for bringing the America’s Cup to San Francisco, has come a long way since 2010, when he first floated the idea of hosting the elite regatta against a Golden Gate backdrop.
On Forbes’ 2010 list of the world’s wealthiest individuals, Ellison’s estimated net worth of $28 billion earned him a spot in sixth place. That amount gave him a slight edge over the current GDP of Panama, but the superrich seafarer is doing waaaaay better than that Central American nation these days. On the 2013 Forbes roster, the tech mogul rose to No. 5, and his estimated net worth had ballooned considerably, to an estimated $43 billion.
As it happens, the additional $15 billion Ellison managed to attract in the last three years is nearly twice the total spending plan unveiled by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee last week, when he presented the largest proposed city budget in history.
Lee made a point of noting in press statements that he’d taken pains to preserve social services; even tossing an additional $3.8 million toward funding for homeless prevention and housing subsidies. Nevertheless, some dust seems to be kicking up over how equitably Lee would have public dollars distributed across the board.
With the America’s Cup looming on the horizon, the mayor’s budget now awaiting supervisors’ review, and an ever-widening gulf between the haves and the have-nots in San Francisco, we began to ponder: Just how does Ellison’s wealth compare to the amount spent on, say, homeless services in San Francisco?
In Lee’s proposed 2014-2015 budget, “homeless services” is allotted $101,669,214 via the Human Services Agency, about $1.5 million less than the amount included in the city’s 2013-2014 budget.
That figure could also be expressed as 0.236 percent of Ellison’s estimated net worth. Decimal dust.
Within a week or so, we’re told, the Human Services Agency will release an updated estimate of the city's homeless population, along with historical comparisons suggesting whether the ranks of the un-housed has grown or waned in recent years. Weeks after that, San Francisco’s waterfront will be transformed by a sporting event that only the superrich can afford to compete in.